PIC People's Information Center
Petition to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra August 18, 2011
Measures to restore justice
for people affected by the April – May 2010 crackdown
Members of Peuthai party cannot deny the fact that one of the key factors which lead to it winning the recent election came from people’s anger towards political injustice since the 2006 coup. This anger had been fuelled by the bloody crackdown administered by the Abhisit government in April – May 2010. That incident alone resulted in 93 deaths, approximately 1,800 people injured, and more than 700 arrested – not to mention that there are also red shirts who were detained because of their involvement in political demonstrations which took place in the years prior to the crackdown. However, none of those who ordered the use of violence against the people have been prosecuted. Therefore, the task of restoring justice lies now with Peuthai. The party must realize that their red shirt supporters are also keeping a close watch on them.
Although People’s Information Center: April – May 2010 (PIC) and coalition acknowledge the already many challenges this new government has to face, especially from the old power who are waiting for the right timing to intervene and oust the majority-elected government, PIC and coalition also see that it is still the task of the government to work to create a balance between government stability, economic problems, reconciliation and justice. It is important to note that the road map towards reconciliation and restoration of justice, for some cases, can be done immediately as follows;
1. At present there are approximately 100 red shirts still imprisoned – some since the April – May 2010 crackdown and some before. Violations of their fundamental rights have been obviously widespread. For example;
• State officers used excessive power to arrest and detain the red shirts. Charges were exaggerated, some even being accused of terrorism. Blanket arrests took place in different provinces without any concrete evidence that the arrestees had committed a crime, the only thing in the hands of authorities were unclear pictures of the demonstrators. Some detainees were tortured or suffered ill treatment. Some were forced to confess in exchange for what authorities claimed would be a reduced penalty. Often the courts tend to believe the state officers or plaintiff’ witnesses hastily. In cases where defendants had confessed, the courts called for swift trials and convictions without following the standard procedure of examining the evidence.
• There are a number of detainees who are still being deprived of their right to bail, as guaranteed by the constitution. Extremely high bail fees represent a major obstacle for many detainees as they often come from low-income families.
These high bail fees have placed a heavy economic burden on their families, and detainees themselves have also been severely affected. Some detainees have suffered from declining health, such as severe stress and a deteriorating psychological state. Prolonged detention has led to many families becoming indebted. Some have lost their homes and farms. Some no longer have a safe place to live, and are made to depend on the benevolence of others. Recently, there was a case where the daughter of a detainee got raped and now must suffer with the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy. The acts of the previous government and some of the officers working in the justice system merely contributed to further injustice and hatred in society. Therefore, the new Yingluck government must undertake the following urgent actions:Stories of their sufferings seem to be endless.
1.1 Inform officers working in the justice system at all levels such as police, prosecutors, and the courts that the government has a policy to encourage reconciliation based on respect for basic human rights of its citizens. All people detained as a result of political violence must be granted the right to bail, with relevant state authorities as bailers.
1.2 Ensure that the right to bail must also cover victims of political conflict since the
2006 coup – be they lese majeste victims, or those charged with the Computer Crime Act.
1.3 Suspend all the cases where the penalty is deemed to be disproportionately
harsh and review all the arrest cases relating to politics. If it is found out that the legal/ judicial procedures were not in line with the rule of law, the government must push for the revision of the case. And if a person happens to be found innocent, the government must bring justice back and compensate them.
1.4 Instruct the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI),
and the National Police Bureau to disclose full information concerning individual demonstrators charged, arrested and detained under the Emergency Decree and other laws to the public.
2. Prohibit those involved with the Center for Restoration of the Emergency Situation (CRES) from taking part in investigations related to the April – May 2010 crackdown and its relevant cases. This is to prevent distortion of and intervention in investigation processes and results.
3. Push the relevant authorities to speed up the investigation progress into the deaths as quickly as possible. Even though it has already been over a year since the crackdown, there has been no or very little progress in terms of investigations into the deaths, which shall lead to post mortem inquiries as directed by standard legal procedure.
4. Set up special funds to assist those affected by the April – May 2010 crackdown. In doing so, the government must revise the criteria for financial support for the families of those killed and injured to ensure that they receive an appropriate amount of money. Families of members that have been killed, severely injured or crippled should be compensated more generously. In the past, the relevant authorities already provided some financial support. However, their poor management and regulations led to insufficient amounts of compensation and disproportion in terms of people receiving it. There are still a large number of victims who have not received any compensation at all.
5. Improve the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Prime Minister Yingluck has already expressed her wish to see the TRC playing an investigative role into the actual crackdown. Even though PIC still has doubts about the TRC’s work, we also see the need of having TRC so that the work could continue. Therefore, in order to make the TRC more accountable to the public, and ensure that it can bring genuine justice and reconciliation to the society, we propose to improve the current TRC by;
5.1 The TRC must have clear objectives in order to seek truth and justice, as these two principles are the key to reconciliation. The TRC must be mandated to give its opinion on actual incidents and to point out who is to be held responsible for any violations that happened in relation to the crackdown before the cases are to proceed further through normal legal means.
5.2 The government must ensure that TRC has the right to subpoena so that all relevant authorities and actors such as CRES are obliged to disclose all information concerning the crackdown to the TRC. The government must also issue a clear message, and if need be design a policy, to ensure that state officers cooperate with the TRC. If anyone or any authority refuses to cooperate, they and their superior should be subjected to disciplinary action.
5.4 Ensure that TRC is accountable to the public. 5.3 Reform the structure of the TRC by ensuring that the Commission consists of relatives of the victims and experts coming from various relevant fields. Commissioners who are wearing too many hats and cannot work full time, as they are supposed to, must consider resigning. In the past, TRC has not been transparent in terms of carrying out its work. There is a lack of cooperation and participation by the affected people. TRC itself has been ineffective in terms of publicizing the information about the crackdown and its work progress to the public. Therefore, the new TRC must be open to invite the public to attend its hearings and it must report its work progress to the public at least once a month through various public media outlets. In addition, all information relating to fact-finding of TRC must not be confidential. All of this will help the TRC to be more transparent and accountable to the public so that what happened with the fact-finding report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will not happen with the TRC.
5.5 TRC must announce the deadline for the release of their fact-finding report as well as the exact period that it would end its work so that the public can help to monitor the work of TRC effectively.
6. The government must allow visits by international organizations such as the UN Special Rapporteurs (SR) on Extrajudicial Killings, SR on Freedom of Expression, SR on Arbitrary Detentions, SR on Human Rights and Counter-terrorism, and International Red Cross (ICRC), and give them its full cooperation in order to support fact-finding and humanitarian works. It is true that the road map to reconciliation needs some flexibility and compromises by all sides. However, PIC and coalition see that there are certain principles which cannot be compromised whatsoever – and that is the “truth” about the crackdown on civilians. One thing that can be compromised is punishing perpetrators by targeting merely the commanders while low-ranking officers who only received the commands should be exempted from punishment unless they broke the rules which caused violations to civilians
All in all, PIC and coalition call for the new government under the premiership of Yingluck Shinawatra to restore justice for those affected by the April – May 2010 crackdown as quickly as possible.